June 11, 2015 8:15 pm
Updated: June 11, 2015 8:30 pm

Alberta labour group pushes NDP for pay-before-you-pump gas law


WATCH: The NDP government is now looking at a pay before you pump law for the fall. Labour Minister Lori Sigurdson says first they will meet with all stakeholders on the issue. Global’s Gary Bobrovitz reports.

CALGARY – The Alberta NDP is pledging to move forward on legislation after an outcry from the Alberta Federation of Labour after the hit-and-run death of Maryam Rashidi, a 35-year-old clerk who ran to stop a gas-and-dash on Sunday morning.

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READ MORE: Man charged in fatal gas and dash had criminal history

One of those is the pay-before-you-pump system, used exclusively at Smart Mart and Gas, an independent station in southeast Calgary.

“It’s safer for me,” said owner Joseph Saung. “It’s a good idea to pre-pay.”

The Alberta government says it’s looking at “different initiatives that can alleviate situations like this in the future” and has promised to consider a pay-before-you-pump law.

“It is legislation that we’re looking at,” said Alberta Labour Minister Lori Sigurdson in Edmonton on Thursday. “Our session starts right away here in three days, so we won’t have it for the spring session, but we are looking at it for the fall.

“We want to speak with stakeholders and yes, we are looking at legislation.”

READ MORE: Calgary gas-and-dash death raises questions, renews calls for new law

Gas-and-dash crimes are a growing problem across Calgary, according to police data. In the first three months of 2015, there were 235 incidents. Last year, 776 incidents and 567 in 2013—more than 2,100 in just over three years.

Gas and Dash thefts Calgary infographic

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) says it’s time for pay-before-you-pump legislation. The group’s executive committee voted unanimously to push the NDP for the new legislation.

“We are confident they will respond to this tragedy, and respond to the pressure they are getting from groups like ours, and the Alberta government will do what it should have done years ago, and introduce a law to protect these workers,” said AFL president Gil McGowan.

The AFL recommendations to the NDP include four proposals, according to a release:

  1. “Introduce a “pay-before-you‎-pump” law that would require customers to pre-pay or pay at the pump before they can pump gas.
  2. Introduce regulations making it mandatory for gas station employers to provide their employees with training about how to deal with robberies and gas-and-dash situations. This training must make it clear that money lost from gas-and-dash robberies (or any other kind of robberies) will not be deducted from an employee’s paycheque.
  3. Introduce regulations that require gas stations to have more than one person on duty on night shifts, when robberies and violent attacks are most likely. If the employer insists on having only one staff member on duty, that staff member must work in a locked area, behind bullet-proof glass.
  4. Launch an investigation to determine whether or not Centex told Ms. Rashidi that money lost from gas-and-dash robberies would be deducted from her paycheque. If it is determined that Centex, in contravention of Alberta law, gave these instructions,  the government should prosecute the company and the local gas station manager under both the Occupation Health and Safety Code and the Criminal Code.”

READ MORE: ‘She was the best thing I had’ – Husband mourns hit-and-run victim

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